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Insurance for Graduating College Student?
Old 05-12-2008, 01:55 PM   #1
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Insurance for Graduating College Student?

My son is graduating from College this month (BS in BioChem). He has not locked down a job offer yet, and the 'family plan' insurance I have as a mega-corp retiree will drop his coverage at the end of May. So, I am looking into coverage for him. Hopefully the experience on this forum can help me sort out some of this:

A) COBRA - hmmm, costs $850/month (yes, in addition to what I pay for family coverage)! Looks like you can actually not pay this, and if something happens within 60 days, pay up and get retro-active coverage. I might consider that if I knew for certain there was just a 60 day gap - but I don't feel comfortable. info here: Health Insurance for College Grads - Kiplinger.com

B) That same kiplinger's article (and an earlier post on this forum that came up on a search) points here: Health Insurance, Medical Insurance, Individual Health Insurance Quotes for short term health ins quotes. These look reasonable to me. I would go for a high deductible, and probably be $70 ~ $100/month.

C) I'm trying to figure out the real diff between 'short term' plans and regular coverage. The prices seem only slightly cheaper for 'short term' ($10~$20/month less). Some short term plans say less than 6 months - so I'm wondering, if some problem came up in that time, might he have difficulty getting into an insurance plan after that, if needed?

Another thing making this all very tricky is, he really had his heart set on getting into a PharmD program (and I could extend his coverage under our family plan, as long as he is enrolled full time), but he didn't quite make the cut. So, he might actually end up taking some temp jobs that don't provide health insurance, but would look good on his application to PharmD school for the next year (and he will re-take the test which should boost his scores). At that point, he can get coverage through me (until age 25) or through the school. So, I'm trying to stay flexible.

Also - how do I find out if the insurers are any good - I read a string of horror stories on UnitedHealthCare (Golden Rule?) - but sometimes the internet link you find is just the complainers - I have no idea if it is representative or they are any better/worse than some of the others. list here: https://www.ehealthinsurance.com/ehe...companies.html


Sorry, this got so long..... any suggestions?

TIA - ERD50
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Old 05-12-2008, 02:29 PM   #2
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Blue Cross and Blue Shield have a temporary policy . You just search Blue Cross Of Ill . and they will give you the plan prices with the different deductibles . Also I know some nurses that used Allegiant for temporary coverage and they had no complaints . Of course nurses get a lot of perks from area doctors .
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Old 05-12-2008, 03:12 PM   #3
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I'm doing the same thing for my daughter - her coverage expires at the end of June. Blue Cross/ Blue Shield high deductible policies are not too costly for a kid that age.
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Old 05-12-2008, 05:45 PM   #4
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I'm concerned about this issue as well. My daughter has a pre-existing condition that requires 6 month check ups so the idea of a large deductible wouldn't be feasible for her as she is not likely to get a decent paying job yet. I'm going to have her apply to Kaiser HMO with no deductible and a small co-pay.
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Old 05-12-2008, 05:45 PM   #5
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OK, filling out the BCBS forms online now. Wow, what a pain. Looks like I need to put together a lifetime medical history. After asking a bunch of specific questions about the past 1, 5 and 10 year periods (including dates and doctor names, treatments and medications for things as minor as acne and allergies...); this question sure looks all inclusive:
Quote:
Has any person applying for coverage ever been hospitalized or been treated in the emergency room or had any physical impairment, deformity, congenital anomaly, sickness, operation, injury or hospitalization other than admitted to above?
Even though he has been pretty healthy, this is going to take a while, adenoids, tubes in ear, chicken pox, sniffles, tummy ache?? OK, I assume sniffles and tummy ache don't need to be listed - but still ....

-ERD50
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Old 05-12-2008, 05:52 PM   #6
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"Has any person applying for coverage ever been hospitalized or been treated in the emergency room or had any physical impairment, deformity, congenital anomaly, sickness, operation, injury or hospitalization other than admitted to above?"

This is the old 'gotcha' clause that could come back to haunt you if you fail to list any condition or illness which could be considered a pre-existing condition. All you can do is your very best to include anything and everything you can recall...and hope for the best.
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Old 05-12-2008, 06:37 PM   #7
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Hey, guys, this should be a "not my problem" thing. They have gone through college -- it's time for them to deal with this themselves. Agreed, it's a very difficult thing, but it's time for Real Life 101.

I admit that if I got a call from my daughter saying "Well, Dad, health insurance is too expensive, so I'm going to go without." I might step in somehow. Other than that, it's best for all if you let them start living their own life.
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Old 05-12-2008, 07:22 PM   #8
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This is the old 'gotcha' clause that could come back to haunt you if you fail to list any condition or illness which could be considered a pre-existing condition. All you can do is your very best to include anything and everything you can recall...and hope for the best.
Yep, that's what I fear. I know, there is a 0.0001% chance that anything would happen in that time frame, but it still makes me nervous. I'll probably just need to be pragmatic - and identify 'conditions' that could have long term effects (none that I can think of, but I'm not a doctor), versus 'stuff' that happened (strep throat, chicken pox) - but, when they include things like wanting doctor's name, dates and prescriptions for acne treatments in the past TEN years.... makes you wonder what they think is important. I'll call tomorrow, but I would imagine the person on the phone is not in any position to offer any discretionary advise. We will see. I hate stuff like this.

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Hey, guys, this should be a "not my problem" thing. They have gone through college -- it's time for them to deal with this themselves. Agreed, it's a very difficult thing, but it's time for Real Life 101.
Well, I agree in principal, but they have no background in getting insurance, he's in the middle of finals, and job applications, and trying to organize interviews, and.... the insurance is up at the end of the month. Plus, I procrastinated a bit, because he had a pretty good shot at getting into the PharmD program, and his insurance would just continue under our plan with no action other than updating his student status. And I'm just sitting around all day anyhow, so no, I'm not ready to just drop this on him.

I will be talking to him about the 'gotchas' in maintaining insurance coverage, at least what I know - it's a complex subject. The downside is just to large to mess around with - but I understand where you are coming from.

-ERD50
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Old 05-12-2008, 11:13 PM   #9
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When my son graduated in 2006 we went though this. His college sent info on an insurance company that they recommended and he checked comparable coverage and that company's rates were quite good so he went with them. I don't remember the name of the company but it was much cheaper than our COBRA cost. He bought 3 months worth of basic coverage with a large deductible and I made sure that he was stocked up on his prescriptions through our mail order pharmacy before his coverage ended.

Here's something I learned in the process. Our family coverage through my husband's work considered him a dependent (and therefore covered him) as long as the IRS considered him a dependent. The requirement for that was that he could be a dependent for the entire year if he was a college student "in 5 calendar months". Not for 5 months, but in 5 calendar months. Since he was a student for a portion of January and graduated the first week in May, he qualified as a dependent for the IRS and therefore for our health insurance until December 31 of the year that he graduated. Of course, I verified all this with a customer service person with our health insurance. So he didn't need to buy his own insurance until January.

As for how to handle the details, I explained to him about what he needed in basic coverage, what a deductible meant, how a co-pay works and we went over what a typical year of his own medical expenses had been in the past. I told him to shop for a policy that covered the unexpected, expensive things, not for an office visit for a sore throat. He knew it would be for just a few months, he already had a job but they had a 90 day waiting period. His car insurance would cover medical for an accident, he really just needed coverage for something like tripping down the stairs and breaking a bone and needing surgery. Or a serious illness or anything needing medical tests or a hospitalization.

He researched policies and decided on one and applied online, paid online and printed a certificate immediately.
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Old 05-13-2008, 03:13 AM   #10
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ERD. Congrats on the son's graduation.

About insurance. Assuming your son is healthy... since he is young, I would have expected a health plan to be fairly low cost.

The potential problem with those short-term plans (6 months) is that they are short-term. If it turned out that he needed coverage for something late in the term, they probably would not renew his policy.


IMHO - I would go with a larger insurance company (and most reputable) that you can afford. You would not want to find out that they play games if your son actually needs the coverage.

You might consider an HMO.
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Old 05-13-2008, 09:50 AM   #11
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Thanks for the replies. I realize I'm getting a bit paranoid on this, but it is complicated by the fact that the amount of time he'll need coverage is an unknown right now. Because of that, I am going to avoid the 'short term' plans, as they are not renewable. If something bad developed, he could get himself in a bind of not being insurable. One in a million, but just not the kind of thing I can roll the dice on.

Costs don't appear to be too bad or the high deductible policies. Estimate is ~ $60/month, but we will see after they get the application. That is with Blue Cross, I'm assuming they are among the largest, most established (I wish that meant something, but....)

I called in, they were pretty much 'do the best you can' on dates and details. I guess if there was anything suspicious, or anything that looked like it could have long term risks, they will ask for the details if they need it. So we will see.

All the talk in the media about health insurance, I'm not aware of anyone addressing this record keeping. I never gave it much thought. I've heard about the proposals to have on-line medical histories available, and it seems like a good idea to me.

-ERD50
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:14 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Hey, guys, this should be a "not my problem" thing. They have gone through college -- it's time for them to deal with this themselves. Agreed, it's a very difficult thing, but it's time for Real Life 101.
In the immortal words of the Reverend Wright, "nah, nah, nah." It might seem like this is OK but it is not -- unless, that is, you would sit by a watch your kid get substandard care for cancer or some other horrible condition because he/she had no coverage. Most of us wouldn't. We would end up drawing down our portfolios to save our kids. Think of continuing catastrophic coverage as insurance for YOUR portfolio. My nephew came up with cancer right after graduating from college. He spent months in the hospital, 5 operations, and an aggressive, experimental treatment that probably saved his life. He was effectively without insurance when he got diagnosed but was able to get enrolled in grad school and into a policy in time. Had he not, my brother would have been devastated. Based on that lesson, I made sure my son was covered until an employer policy kicked in and will make sure my daughter is covered. I plan to follow them through job changes and make sure they keep covered as long as I am alive. Trusting kids to see the importance/value of health coverage in their 20s is just plain dumb -- lots of them don't see it. Case in point - 34 years ago my first wife and I had my son with no insurance coverage
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:25 PM   #13
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i think my dad got me catastrophic coverage when i had coverage gaps (which was relatively cheap) and i would go to free clinics for my annual paps and other basic needs...

i think the issue is if he is "dependent" or not as others have pointed out - if he's independent - and has no income, he should qualify for free or low cost state coverage - at least in CA he would...
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Old 05-13-2008, 08:50 PM   #14
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He might prefer to have a break from school - but he could take 12 hours at community college - classes like photography or whatever he would enjoy that he might never get to experience otherwise. Then he could stay on your insurance...?
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Old 05-15-2008, 09:36 PM   #15
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Thanks again for the comments. The unfortunate situation of donheff's nephew is exactly why I want to avoid a temporary non-renewable policy. Even though it is a 1:million thing, since it is something I can take control of, I just feel that is the prudent thing to do. And it's not expensive for the high-deductible policies, you just need to jump through the application hoops, so that's where I am. Submitted, now waiting for approval/questions from them (BlueCrossBlueShield of IL).

Under our insurance, his coverage drops the end-of-the month of graduation date. I will start talking to him about signing up for a full time enrollment in a school as a backup plan, that is an option that would reinstate him. I'll mention it, but I assume he could get in pretty quick if that was needed, so hopefully he can just concentrate on getting a job!

Same with relying on a state plan -not sure what is available in IL, but just not something I want to count on, especially if something less than $100/month provides that peace of mind. The preliminary quote (before the review your app) was $60/month for $5,000 deductible 80% coverage.

I have some empathy for the insurance companies on this. They are in competition, and to provide reasonable costs to people with reasonable risk, they need to weed out the high risk people. No doubt, some high risk people are going to try to hide something, or sign up just after they find out there is a problem. OTOH, the insurance companies can't really afford to fully screen every detail for every applicant. There was some news items that point out that the insurance cos say they only retract benefits on < 1% of policies - but some point out that only ~ 1% of policies ever have expensive claims made. But, it makes sense that the ins cos can really only question some of this after the claims are in.

I have not read much on the many threads on govt controlled healthcare. It's a complex topic and I'm generally uncomfortable with govt intervention. But I will say, this little episode has opened my eyes up to the very real problems that people *and* the ins cos face.

-ERD50
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Old 05-17-2008, 08:16 PM   #16
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DH and I have United Health Care through Golden Rule as does our youngest daughter. No problems with either policy and both myself and my daughter have made claims.
Daughter also had a temporary policy with Golden Rule to cover the 4 month gap from when my mega corp coverage ended and she began her post college job. Temp policy was cheap and the questionnaire was only 10 questions long.

We encouraged our daughter to buy private health insurance so her coverage would not be connected to her job. Young kids tend to change jobs more than us older folks do. This way her coverage will not be tied to her job. Since she is so young, the premiums are not expensive. Her employer gives her $1500/year for not opting for their coverage. She uses this for her premiums. I don't recall how much she pays for monthly coverage. I think around $100/month for a $3500 deductible HSA.
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Old 05-18-2008, 07:57 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post

I have some empathy for the insurance companies on this. They are in competition, and to provide reasonable costs to people with reasonable risk, they need to weed out the high risk people. No doubt, some high risk people are going to try to hide something, or sign up just after they find out there is a problem. OTOH, the insurance companies can't really afford to fully screen every detail for every applicant.
This is precisely why I have NO SYMPATHY for the insurance companies and wish we could just go for a universal, single payer plan like most modern societies. The poor few, who have some damn pre-existing condition, SHOULD NOT be thrown under the bus so the rest of us can get cheap coverage. There but for the grace of God go us all.
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Old 05-19-2008, 03:39 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
...
I have some empathy for the insurance companies on this. They are in competition, and to provide reasonable costs to people with reasonable risk, they need to weed out the high risk people. No doubt, some high risk people are going to try to hide something, or sign up just after they find out there is a problem.

...-ERD50
Empathy may be too strong of a word. Perhaps a better word is understand. Insurance companies are in it to make money. They are not on a humanitarian mission. Some go to extreme lengths by denying claims for people that are insured (legitimate claims)


Yes, anti-selection happens. People try to game it. Insurers on the other hand redline people (with various techniques including price).

IMHO - Universal Health care is the only way this general problem will be solved... with mandatory participation. Because on each side of the equation, if someone thinks they can game it and come out ahead they will do it.
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Old 05-19-2008, 03:46 AM   #19
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My boss has son similar situation - he found several plans in the $100-$150/month range - suprisingly cheap - and these were "big name" - like Blue Cross, etc.

And they weren't "backstop" / catastropic plans - they had reasonable co-pays for office visits, prescriptions, preventative.

Interesting however: they had a maximum payout of $200 for emergency room visits - if there was not an associated hospital stay.

I guess this is a huge incentive to only go to emergency room when you really have to....
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Old 05-19-2008, 08:43 AM   #20
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Temp policy was cheap and the questionnaire was only 10 questions long.
I think that is because it was a temp policy - those are non-renewable, so the ins co is not committing to a long term health problem, they will just decline the renewal. I decided to go with a 'regular' health policy, just in case (see below)


Quote:
We encouraged our daughter to buy private health insurance so her coverage would not be connected to her job. Young kids tend to change jobs more than us older folks do. This way her coverage will not be tied to her job. Since she is so young, the premiums are not expensive.
Yes, this was my thinking also. My son may go back to school, or might take a more temporary position on his way to something more long term. I thought it would be a good idea to have this high deductible policy as a back up. I'm also thinking he should keep it, at least until there is some foreseeable stability.

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Empathy may be too strong of a word. Perhaps a better word is understand.
Yes, understand - that is what I meant. Also used 'empathy' because I do think the ins cos get 'demonized' a bit on this topic. It may be deserved in some cases.
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empathy
  1. capacity to understand another person's point of view or the result of such understanding
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Originally Posted by Delawaredave5 View Post
My boss has son similar situation - he found several plans in the $100-$150/month range - suprisingly cheap - and these were "big name" - like Blue Cross, etc.

And they weren't "backstop" / catastropic plans - they had reasonable co-pays for office visits, prescriptions, preventative.

Interesting however: they had a maximum payout of $200 for emergency room visits - if there was not an associated hospital stay.

I guess this is a huge incentive to only go to emergency room when you really have to....
Interesting, I'll check out that ER detail. I went with the catastrophic plan ($5000 deduct) , that is all I'm really concerned about at this point - looks like they will only be ~ $60/month, but that is subject to review of the application.

Quote:
IMHO - Universal Health care is the only way this general problem will be solved... with mandatory participation. Because on each side of the equation, if someone thinks they can game it and come out ahead they will do it.
There have been a lot of threads on the Universal Health care subject, I've only skimmed them because I'm just not up on all the details - this might spur me to delve into it a bit deeper. It's a complex topic, that 'participation' is a big issue, and while there is no free lunch, I think there is at least the opportunity to reduce complexity, and increase preventive care, which could actually reduce overall costs. But, with the govt involved, I'm skeptical. At any rate, a topic for a different thread...


thanks again for the inputs. - ERD50
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